Aimee Shaw is a business reporter focusing on small business

Small Business: Giving you a boosted tour of the city - Power to the Pedal

Power to the Pedal founder Eddie Jack (centre) on a tour of Auckland city.
Power to the Pedal founder Eddie Jack (centre) on a tour of Auckland city.

Electric bike tour company Power to the Pedal is cruising through the streets of Auckland's CBD. Scotsman Eddie Jack, a long-time Auckland resident, explains where his business sits within the crowded tourism space.

A brief description of the business

We offer electric bike guided tours and rentals in central Auckland.

The idea is to give visitors a local perspective on the city, and we do this by taking them around on electric bikes which basically flattens out hills and enables people to cruise around effortlessly. It costs between $49 to $95 per person depending on the tour and duration. We also offer electric bike rentals, so the option is there for those who want to explore the city on their own.

What inspired you to start this kind of business?

It probably wasn't the most obvious first choice of business as I have a background as a corporate lawyer, but I've always been a cycling geek.

I've always really enjoyed cycling in any form whether that be road cycling or mountain biking, and so I tried out an electric bike and it struck me as an interesting experience.

At the time I was looking for an opportunity within the cycling space, and noticed the ease of getting around on bike in Auckland safely and effortlessly had remarkably changed, so that prompted me to start the business. That and the fact I love Auckland.

Me and my wife spent a few years living in London and coming back to Auckland really reminded us what a world-class place it is.

How long has Power to the Pedal been operating?

We are very young, but basically from November last year.

We had been planning the business launch for a while, but timing was really catered around equipment arriving from the US and the designing of the website.

How big is your team?

At the moment I'm taking the lead cycling approach; the team is me. I've got a website with a live booking and integrated system which really helps me manage the administration side of the business and allows me to utilise my time, focus on business development and be with guests.

Power to the Pedal founder Eddie Jack on a cycle tour of Auckland.
Power to the Pedal founder Eddie Jack on a cycle tour of Auckland.

In terms of battery technology, how do your electric bikes run?

Electric bike battery technology has come on a lot, like computing, they keep making great advances as they're going along.

The batteries in our bikes generally give between 50 to 100kms of range with electrical assistance, but it's like a car. If you've got a heavy right foot and accelerating a lot then it uses more fuel and that's the same with a bike. If you use more electrical assistance then you'll have a slightly shorter range.

The bikes are perfect for a day of cycling around Auckland. We charge them in-between tours and within two hours they gain about 80 per cent of the power back. You can get a recharge really quite quickly. We tend to take a tour in the morning and then give it a quick recharge to top it up for the afternoon run.

Who are your biggest clients?

Our guests are a combination of cruise ship passengers and the independent traveller. We also get backpackers and Kiwis from other parts of New Zealand, too.

Avoid distraction and make sure you're focused on your business, not your competitors.
Eddie Jack, Power to Pedal founder

At the moment we only do tours in English, so the majority of people tend to be English-speaking guests such as Australians, Americans, Canadians and people from the UK and predominantly English-speaking European countries.

How much competition are you facing in the tourism market?

There's certainly a lot of competition and that's why it really comes down to the quality of the product; the content, tours, local expertise, the equipment.

There are a couple of other companies around town that either run electric bike tours or have electric bikes to rent. Then, in a more general sense, there are those with more of an established set up such as coach and bus tours, walking tours. And then there is less direct competition such as activities available throughout the day including bungy jumping, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding.

What was the biggest challenge in setting up the business?

Coming from a corporate environment, it was a bit of a shock to the system when I found myself without familiar support systems and colleagues sitting next to you.

The electric bikes have a distance range of up to 100 kilometres.
The electric bikes have a distance range of up to 100 kilometres.

Another ongoing challenge is establishing our profile in a busy market. You can think 'I've got my website', but essentially unless you're marketing and internet-optimising correctly, then nobody knows you are there.

Tourism leans on rating systems, how important are these to your business?

Getting reviews on TripAdvisor is critical to pushing you up the rankings.

In this space it's more and more critical for tour operators. People want social proof of TripAdvisor reviews, but you can't get that without the bookings.

We're definitely building momentum, but it is a challenge trying to navigate our way around obscure things such as search engine optimisation. The more positive reviews you get, the more comfort it gives people who are looking for things to do.

Trip Advisor is a pretty standard destination for people planning holidays or looking for things to do - it's one of the first places they go. There are other sales and distribution channels such as iSite and online travel agents which are all really helpful, but what comes along with that is commission.

Trip Advisor is valuable as it helps maximise what you are selling directly.

What advice would you give to others thinking of starting a business?

If you've got an idea don't procrastinate, just get on with it because the New Zealand environment to start a business is really friendly. You can start up a business here relatively quickly and pretty efficiently.

Avoid distraction and make sure you're focused on your business, not your competitors.

- NZ Herald

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